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Witches' Forest: The Adventures of Duan Surk    by Mishio Fukazawa order for
Witches' Forest
by Mishio Fukazawa
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

By the end of the first chapter of Witches' Forest, it becomes evident to the reader that Mishio Fukazawa's Adventures of Duan Surk quartet is based on a game the computer RPG (role-playing game) Fortune Quest, to be exact. This may seem like an odd concept for a book, but it works surprisingly well and fits in with Tokyopop's goal of bringing Asian entertainment to North America.

Duan Surk is a sixteen-year-old Level 2 Fighter eager to follow in his big brother's footsteps. Unfortunately, Duan is his sibling's physical opposite and thus is stuck on KP duty while his brother is off fighting who-knows-where. Soon, though, Duan sets out on his own adventure after he returns from collecting wood one morning to find his entire unit has upped and moved without him. Left only with his pet grinia, Duan begins roaming the Witches' Forest trying to find his way out. After passing out from lack of food, he meets Olba October, an older, Level 13 Fighter on a quest to find the treasure of the twin witches, Ogma and Samra, who live in a mansion deep in the heart of the forest. After battling a huge Cyclops marionette, the trio becomes a quintent, as Angis Link - a Level 3 Sorceress who is Duan's age - and her pet snow leopard tag along to the witches' house to get her revenge (the twin witches turned her mother into a bird). Of course, there are many monsters and mishaps along the way and the three Adventurers must learn to work together if they are going to take on Ogma and Samra and live to tell the tale.

While the reader won't find stellar writing in Witches' Forest, there is plenty of fun and adventure, with a little humor thrown in as well. Throughout the book, there are plenty of sidebars and even Adventurer cards, explaining the main characters, Adventurer gear, and local delicacies tidbits common in RPGs. At the end, there is a glossary of the monsters encountered. All of these elements combine with the plot to form a fast-paced fantasy novel that younger teens - especially boys who would rather be playing an RPG - will want to read.

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